ORLANDO, FL – During the 2015-16 season, every home game of the Orlando Solar Bears featured a player in flight burying a shot in the opposing team’s net. That image appeared at the dramatic closing moment of the team’s intro video. It brought the home crowd to its feet. Ironically, that player had been traded away to the Fort Wayne Komets and never appeared on the Amway Center ice during the year…but that is about to change.
Brock Montgomery is coming back to the Solar Bears. He is a well-loved fan favorite, and for good reason. His scrappy style of play on the ice and his humorous personality off the ice make him the type of player head coach Anthony Noreen wants to see on the team’s roster. Assessing his own approach to the game, Montgomery told The Sin Bin, “I have continued to learn and grow as a player with confidence on and off the ice. I am a big, physical player who likes to be around the net as much a possible and get my shot off as much as I can.”
When Montgomery played for the Solar Bears in 2014-15, he made his mark, with 37 points in 58 games. However, during the 2015-16 season with Fort Wayne, he had a series of fluke injuries that cost him many games. The most serious setbacks occurred in two parts of the season. The first involved a torn muscle in November in a game against the Quad City Mallards, which put him back for nearly eight weeks. Then, in March during a game against the Colorado Eagles, he received a serious blow to the head which resulted in a concussion.
Reflecting on his experiences last year, Montgomery said, “Fort Wayne is a great organization. It was a tough season for me last year with injuries and such, but they treat their players very well there. As for Orlando I don’t think I can say I’ve played for a better organization. They are always here to help and take care of their players.”
The trade that sent Montgomery to Fort Wayne in 2015 did upset some fans, but in retrospect, it paid off for the Solar Bears who received Eric Faille. Faille had a banner year for his new team, gaining 60 points for Orlando and 10 for the Solar Bears’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. Now, through some strange twists of fate, Orlando and/or Toronto will have both forwards.
Montgomery is enthusiastic about the coming year. Asked about his goals for the season, Montgomery mentioned three: “Play my best hockey…in my career, help my team capture the Kelly Cup, and, in doing so, hopefully get a look from some AHL teams.”
Montgomery knows that he is coming to a team which relies heavily on transactions with the Marlies, and he looks to the benefits of the affiliation. “There will always be guys who get called up and sent down,” he said. “It for sure impacts guys’ roles on the team, but it is always a good thing. Either you are happy for someone getting called up, or we are getting send down another good player, so either way it is a win win.”
A native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Montgomery will enjoy the company this year of another Moose Javian, Coltyn Sanderson. Sanderson will make his professional debut with the Solar Bears this year after completing the 2015-16 season with the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks which claimed the NCAA championship in Tampa Bay.
“Me and Coltyn do not have much of a history,” Montgomery said. “We didn’t really know each other growing up…He took the college route as I went to the WHL (Western Hockey League). From what I hear, he is a hard two-way player who has a strong work ethic.”
When asked what new visitors to the Moose Jaw area should explore, Montgomery replied, “The tunnels of Moose Jaw. Al Capone used to stash his alcohol there. That is why Moose Jaw is also referred to as Little Chicago.”
Concerning Pokémon Go and his favorite Pokémon, he answered that he is Team Valor and his favorite Pokémon is Jigglypuff. The reply is both humorous and revealing, as Jigglypuff is one of the few Pokémon appearing the Super Smash Bros. series. Jigglypuff’s personality resembles Brock Montgomery’s in many ways: Both are calm and funny outside of battle, but once in the competitive arena, they are forces to be reckoned with.